Why and how to get started monitoring power & energy

Let's take a look at two reasons you may want to monitor power and energy usage and see how to get started with each:

  • Monitor power for machine health
  • Monitor energy to reduce operating costs

Machine health

Power is electricity that's being used now. Its focus is operations, and OT people can use power monitoring to minimize downtime and get a better understanding of machine health. 

Power draw is often an indicator of machine health, either by itself or with other parameters, such as temperature for motors and vibration for rotating machinery. Due to issues like lubrication, filter pressures, bearing or seal wear, motor shaft misalignment, or motor winding deterioration, a machine may use more power to work harder, shortening its life and causing failures and downtime.  

groov RIO EMU energy monitoring unitYou monitor power to:

  • Tune systems autonomously
  • Predict failures before they occur
  • Detect anomalies
  • Decrease downtime
How do you get started monitoring power?
  • First, identify significant loads in your facility, process, or remote locations—loads like refrigeration units, heat treating ovens, boilers, compressors, fans, pumps, and so on.
  • Then wire either a groov RIO EMU or a groov EPIC power monitoring module to the individual machine.
  • Decide where the data should go—to a database, to a cloud AI service for analysis, to an HMI—and follow steps in the groov RIO EMU or groov EPIC user's guide to get the data there, for example using Node-RED, PAC Control, groov View, or Ignition Edge. 
  • Finally, monitor consistently over time. 
groov EPIC power monitoring I/O modulePower monitoring for these purposes is not a one-and-done project; it’s a continuous process of improvement. You know machines will degrade and perform differently over time, so you have to continually monitor, identify issues, and adjust.

Operating costs

Energy is power used over time. Plant managers, engineers, and automation technicians usually aren’t accountable for energy expenditure for the factory or process. Their KPIs are production throughput, quality, and uptime. Typically the electric bill goes to someone in Accounting, and energy is assumed to be a fixed cost. 

But with supply chain problems and the cost of raw materials going up, this is a good time to see what other costs you can control. Reducing energy costs may offer one of the best opportunities a company has to improve the bottom line.  

You monitor energy to:

  • Reduce costs
  • Increase profits
  • Assign energy costs for billing or planning

How to get started monitoring energy

Begin with the main electrical panel at your facility. Then move down to subpanels and then to individual machines. 
Energy monitoring hierarchy

When you measure energy usage at each point and then take a close look at your electric bill, you will see ways to reduce costs. Typically utility bills include two charges for industrial customers: one for total energy consumption and one for peak demand, which is the maximum used at any point during a specified time interval (for example, within 15 minutes). The peak demand charge can be even more than the consumption charge. But you can often find simple ways to reduce peak demand: staging compressors, cycling air handling units, balancing loads, repairing or replacing faulty equipment.

Measuring energy usage also lets you figure energy intensity, which is the amount of energy required to produce one unit of product, for example one liter or one part. You can add this cost to labor, materials, and so on to gain a more complete picture of your cost of production for each type of part.

The bottom line

Gaining visibility into power and energy usage lets you check assumptions, find problem spots, and then take the steps to reduce or eliminate them. What will your power and energy data tell you?

Need more help getting started? Contact an Opto 22 engineer. We're glad to help. 

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